Robin Lehner traded to Sabres, Ottawa gets first-round pick

Robin Lehner traded to Sabres, Ottawa gets first-round pick

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Ottawa Senators had a tough decision on their hands in goal.

They had Andrew Hammond, last season’s second-half sensation, on a new three-year deal. They had Craig Anderson, the 34-year-old veteran that can be downright dominant for stretches. And they had 23-year-old Robin Lehner, one-time goalie of the future who had suddenly become a palpable trading chip for the team.

GM Bryan Murray wanted two high picks for Lehner’s services. He ended up getting one: The 21st pick in Friday night’s NHL Draft from the Buffalo Sabres, as Lehner and center David Legwand were sent across the border to his nephew Tim Murray’s team.

The Ottawa Sun reported that the Sabres were the frontrunner for Lehner’s services because Tim Murray was the assistant general manager in Ottawa when the team drafted him.

Lehner was 9-12-3 in 25 games last season before an injury cut his campaign short. He had a .905 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA. He's signed through 2016-17 with a $2.225 million cap hit and is an RFA after that.

He had a chance to stake a claim for the Ottawa starting gig back in 2014 when Anderson was injured, but couldn’t quite put together his unquestionable skill with a steady confidence. The Senators instead signed both Lehner and Anderson to new contracts. Then Hammond arrived on the scene last season and, well, no one was throwing hamburgers on the ice for Lehner.

What does this signal for the Sabres? Well, that Murray views Lehner as a potential goalie of the future for a team that’s deep into a rebuild. And that using that pick at No. 21 on a 23-year-old with NHL experience was better than using it on Ilya Samsonov, the top-rated goalie in the draft who will spend the next two seasons in the KHL.

A bit of overpayment for Buffalo? Perhaps, but that’s only going be determined by how well Lehner ends up playing in his new environs.